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What Is Saturn App? How To Know If It's Safe For Your Kids

While Saturn App is a popular calendar app for high school students, it has also come under attack by parents and school boards over privacy concerns.

While Saturn App is a popular calendar app for high school students, it has also come under attack by parents and school boards over privacy concerns.

Illustration of a person with binoculars staring at the planet Saturn on a large phone screen.

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      Is the Saturn Scheduling App Safe For Your Family?

      First launched in 2018, Saturn App has become one of the more popular calendar and social media apps for high school students in the United States. But as the app has gained popularity, app reviewers, journalists, and parents have voiced concerns over potential privacy issues. 

      In August 2023, school districts across Florida warned parents, and, in some cases, blocked access to Saturn App [*]. 

      While the developers of the app have responded with updates to address some privacy issues [*], the company’s Safety Center documentation remains somewhat vague about how it verifies students — with no promise that bad actors or non-students won’t be able to access the app.

      In this guide, we'll explore what the Saturn app is about, its risks, and how you can ensure that your children stay safe if they do use the app.


      What Is Saturn App? What Parents Need To Know

      Founded by Dylan Diamond, Saturn App was initially created as a way for students to share and coordinate their class schedules. 

      Over the past few years, Saturn has raised $44 million in funding [*] and has expanded to include features like calendar sharing, school community bulletins, group chats, and integrations with social media platforms including Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok.

      But with 17,000 schools now actively using Saturn to communicate with their students [*], it has also attracted the attention of non-students and predators.

      The Sioux County Sheriff investigated Saturn App and found it was alarmingly easy to create a fake profile and gain information about students and their class schedules [*]. 

      The good news is that the company behind Saturn has been responsive to public concerns, and has released several updates, including stronger verification processes [*].

      According to the app’s Safety Center, here’s how the sign-up process for Saturn works:

      • School emails only. Students register by using their school email, which ensures that only actual students can join their school's community.
      • Restricted access until you are verified. Until your email is validated — for example, by having connections in your contact list from other students at the same school — you won’t be able to chat with verified users or view their schedules. 
      • Students have to authorize parents or guardians. Nobody can access a student’s account unless the student has contacted the app, provided the details for their parent or guardian, and authorized them to submit an official request. The app also proactively flags and blocks phone numbers that are deemed suspicious.

      Even if you are a verified user, the app’s community guidelines specifically state that you can share your schedule with classmates or keep it private. Members are encouraged to make use of Saturn's tools, such as blocking, to limit shared information.

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      What Are the Risks of Your Teen Using Saturn App?

      Saturn App has made efforts to remedy some of the most obvious privacy concerns — but there are still issues that parents should be aware of, such as:

      Lack of parental oversight 

      Screenshot of the Saturn App showing the time left in Biology class
      Saturn helps high school students track their schedules and interact with other students — but without oversight from parents.

      Saturn does not include parental controls, so adults have no means of actively monitoring their child’s activity within the app. High schoolers might use Saturn for purposes other than intended, such as organizing unsupervised events or sharing inappropriate content. Worse still, they could come into contact with bullies, scammers, or online predators. 

      One review from a teacher in the Apple App Store complained that even teachers don’t have access to the app, leaving kids vulnerable — with no oversight from responsible adults or guardians [*]. The only way parents can access their children's data is if students email Saturn to authorize their parents. 

      Vague “verification” process 

      The biggest concern parents have about Saturn is the risk of unauthorized access by non-students. Saturn’s email verification process aims to ensure that only students can register by using official school email addresses.

      However, if unauthorized users register or use the email addresses of real students, they could bypass the verification process — and potentially intercept messages, view schedules, or contact children. 

      Cyberbullying and harassment

      The Founder of Protect Young Eyes, Chris McKenna, raised concerns that students could use their school emails to get specific class information for everyone. Then, they could easily change their information before they “DM at will and bully other kids" [*]. 

      The app’s community guidelines discourage such behavior, but it can be challenging to police issues and enforce rules without real-time monitoring. Victims of cyberbullying on Saturn may feel they have limited recourse or ways to prevent the harassment.

      📚 Related: 12 Internet Safety Tips For Kids and Teens

      Distraction from academic responsibilities

      Although Saturn was designed to encourage students to become more connected and involved with school activities, it could also prove to be a distraction. 

      If students use the app during class or become addicted to fun features — like the group chat — it may negatively impact academic performance. One user admitted to seeing some students developing bad habits by staring at the timer in the app until class was over [*]. 

      Potential cheating

      The ability to share information quickly and privately may also facilitate academic dishonesty among students. If kids have access to their smartphones during exams, they could use group chats on Saturn to share test answers or homework solutions. By 2020, 77% of U.S. schools had introduced cellphone bans [*]. 

      Social media connections

      One huge red flag is that Saturn immediately prompts users to connect their Snapchat accounts. Given Snapchat’s scam problems, connecting these apps poses a significant risk. Even if Saturn was secure, children could put their personal information and safety at risk by linking the app with Snapchat.

      Privacy and data leak concerns

      Saturn collects data on student schedules and school-related activities, but the details on how the students’ information is protected or used are not fully transparent. This lack of clarity raises some concerns about data privacy. If a minor falls victim to child identity theft, fraudsters could ruin the child’s credit score and rack up debts for years before the identity theft is discovered.

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      How To Make Saturn Safer For Your Kids

      Saturn’s Safety Center outlines its approach to protecting its young users, with the company claiming that they “work around the clock to make sure that our users have a positive and safe experience on Saturn.”

      However, as concerns persist, the onus is on parents to take a proactive stance to keep their children safe.

      Here are five ways parents can make Saturn safer for their teens:

      Keep your child’s schedule private

      Open visibility of your child’s class schedule may attract unwanted contact and attention from predators or bullies. It’s better to keep information private as much as you possibly can. 

      One easy measure is to adjust the in-app privacy settings. You can cooperate with your children to tighten the privacy controls in Saturn's account settings so that only approved individuals can access your kids’ school schedules. 

      • Open the Saturn app on your iPhone or Android phone.
      • Tap on the Profile icon (in the bottom right corner).
      • On the next screen, scroll down to the toggle switch for Schedule Visibility. Switching the toggle on will allow everyone at your school to view your schedule, whereas switching it off keeps the schedule private.

      📚 Related: How To Protect Your Personal Information & Privacy Online

      Set time limits or block the app by using parental controls

      Screenshot of the Aura parental controls app showing total screen time and app time limits
      Aura allows parents to track their child’s screen time and set daily limits on app usage.

      Allowing unlimited access to Saturn — or any smartphone app — can disrupt your child’s daily routine and sleep patterns. In the long run, a lack of time limits could impact academic performance and overall well-being. 

      • Use parental control software. It's essential to maintain a healthy balance between digital and real-life activities. Aura's parental controls let parents set up screen time limits on apps and websites, ensuring that smartphone use doesn’t interfere with their kids’ homework, sleep, or social life. 
      • Monitor app usage. Regularly monitoring your child's time on Saturn can help you understand if the app is becoming a distraction during the school day.
      • Establish clear rules. It's wise to agree on ground rules about internet use and smartphones so that your teens have distinct boundaries. If you feel the agreed rules are being broken, you could ban the app in your home or simply block the app on your child’s device.

      Talk to your child about reporting cyberbullying

      As with other social media platforms, Saturn offers anonymity to online bullies. It’s easy for people to exploit the app’s communication channels to harass or threaten other users —  often leaving victims without any way to resolve this situation, making them vulnerable to the effects of cyberbullying.

      • Create an open dialogue about cyberbullying. Parents must help kids recognize the difference between joking around with friends online and harassment. Most importantly, encourage kids to openly communicate about issues and speak up if they witness bullying on the app.
      • Explain the reporting features. Teens can report inappropriate content or profiles in the Saturn app by tapping on the options icon in the top right corner of the screen, then selecting report, and providing a reason for the report. Parents and other non-users can also report inappropriate content or issues by using this online form.  

      📚 Related: The 10 Best Parental Control Apps for iPhones

      Warn teens against unfamiliar friend requests

      Saturn isn’t like other social media apps that encourage connections among strangers. Accepting friend requests from unknown profiles on Saturn can expose your children’s schedules and other linked accounts — and potentially make them targets for scams and online predators.

      • Teach your child about online safety. With your guidance and the help of news articles and videos, you can get kids to fully understand the risks of interacting with strangers online. Explain the importance of limiting connections to known friends and classmates.
      • Review friend lists. It’s a good idea to encourage your children to regularly review their friend lists and remove or block any unfamiliar contacts.
      • Emphasize privacy around personal information. Your children need to know about personally identifiable information (PII) and how important it is to keep PII private. They should not disclose sensitive details, like their phone number or school address. 

      Don’t let your children connect their Snapchat accounts

      While Saturn App promotes linking users’ Snapchat accounts, this is just another way for bullies and predators to target your children. 

      For example, one of the fastest-growing scams in recent years is “sextortion” —  Imposters lure teenage boys into private chats and pressure them to share sensitive images before threatening to make the photos public unless the cybercriminals receive a ransom demand. 79% of sextortion scams happen on Snapchat, making it a worrying place for teenagers and parents [*]. 

      • Discuss the warning signs of scams. Your child should be prepared to spot the signs of sextortion and other scams. Ensure that they know never to send images to strangers, and that they understand when to report issues if they are uncomfortable with online interactions.
      • Encourage stand-alone app use. It's best to advise your children to use Saturn independently from their other social media accounts. With this approach, they won’t put their data, identity, or well-being at risk.
      💪 Aura gives you everything you need to keep your family safe. With Aura’s parental controls, you get content and app blocking, screen time limits and schedules, as well as advanced online security for all of your family members’ devices. Try Aura free for 14 days.

      The Bottom Line: Don’t Ignore Saturn App’s Safety Concerns

      Apps like Saturn are designed to help kids stay organized and connected at school. However, despite the best intentions, social networking apps — especially those made for children —  inevitably make children vulnerable to the risks of the online world. 

      You can keep your kids safe on Saturn by teaching them about digital safety, online privacy, and threats like cyberbullying and scams. But because Saturn lacks parental controls and oversight, there are blind spots. For peace of mind and the best possible protection online, consider Aura. 

      As the #1-rated identity theft protection platform, Aura provides easy-to-use parental controls — including screen limits, app blockers, Safe Gaming tools, real-time alerts, and analytics about your child's online activity. You'll also have access to a secure password manager and antivirus software to protect all of your devices and data against malware threats.

      Keep your family safe online — Try Aura parental controls free for 14 days!

      Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you to increase awareness about digital safety. Aura’s services may not provide the exact features we write about, nor may cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat discussed in our articles. Please review our Terms during enrollment or setup for more information. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime.

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